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Trial dates set for men accused in Arvada fatal rock-throwing case

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Posted at 1:53 PM, Jan 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-03 15:53:46-05

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The three young men charged in the death of Alexa Bartell who was hit in the head by a rock that crashed through her windshield now know when they'll face a jury.

Trial dates for Joseph Koenig, Nicholas Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, who are each charged with first-degree murder, were set during a hearing Wednesday in a Jefferson County courtroom. The arraignment hearing scheduled for Wednesday was continued for March 15.

Judge Christopher Zenisek ruled that the three defendants will be tried separately in anticipation of not-guilty pleas from the three men in March. Karol-Chik's trial begins June 7; Kwak's defense will present his case on June 24, and Koenig faces a jury on July 19. Each trial is expected to take at least 8 days.

The three are being held at the Jefferson County Jail on $2 million cash-only bonds.

The 20-year-old Bartell from Arvada was killed on April 19, 2023, after a rock crashed into her windshield as she drove northbound on Indiana Street in Jefferson County. The three suspects were arrested about a week later.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies determined that Bartell had been on the phone with her friend around 10:45 p.m. when Bartell “abruptly stopped talking,” according to their arrest affidavits.

When the friend was able to leave work, around 11:05 p.m., she used the Find My iPhone app to find Bartell. Through the app, she saw her friend’s phone was stationary in a field on the east side of Indiana Street, just south of State Highway 128, according to the affidavit.

The friend drove to that location and found Bartell with a serious head injury in the driver’s seat of her Chevrolet Spark. She was not moving, according to the affidavit. The friend called Bartell’s mother and then 911.

The suspects allegedly drove by the crashed vehicle to take a photo as a memento, according to the arrest affidavits. The group then headed back home, and Koenig and Karol-Chik swore they would never speak of the incident. Kwak said the following day, Koenig met with him to “get their stories straight… specifically denying involvement,” the document reads.

Koenig and Karol-Chick, both 19, are also charged with attempted murder and attempted assault for allegedly throwing other objects, including a statue and rocks, at cars since February on at least 10 other occasions. Kwak, 18, is not accused of participating in that incident.

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